Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also urged London to open direct flights from the UK to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a step towards normalisation.

Greek Cypriot Administration and Greek flags along with Turkish and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus flags are seen near the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus island , July 6, 2017.
Greek Cypriot Administration and Greek flags along with Turkish and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus flags are seen near the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus island , July 6, 2017. (Reuters)

Former United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Jack Straw in a webinar advocated for a two-state solution as the only solution to the Cyprus issue.

“British government needs to accept in their mind, two-state solution is the only solution,” Straw said on Thursday in an online seminar held by British Turkish Cypriot Association (BTCA) and Council of Turkish Cypriot Association (CTCA).

The former secretary blames himself for being part of what he called a big mistake made by the European Union which was to accept a divided Cyprus island as a member of the bloc.

Greek Cypriots began carrying out ethnic attacks in the early 1960s, forcing Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.

“The first thing to do is we have to get to established in their minds of British politicians, not least current foreign secretary if they want a solution, the solution is going to have to be a two-state solution,” the former top diplomat said.

He noted that the British government accepted multi-state solutions in different regions around the world such as the Balkans.

Stressing that the UK, as a guarantor country, previously had a significant role over the independence of Cyprus, Straw said London needs to use that “influence more.”

READ MORE: Turkey: 'Sovereign equality' can solve Cyprus issue

Direct flights critical to normalisation

The former secretary noted that during his post, London was very close to opening direct flights from the UK to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

“The Foreign Office lawyers were piling me in with all sorts of treaty obligations but we could even have done it in that stage. It wouldn't have broken any European Union obligation,” Straw added.

He noted that opening direct flights from the UK to TRNC can be a “good deal” and could be popular among Brits that are travelling to Northern Cyprus for their holidays.

The TRNC was founded in 1983.

The Greek Cypriot Administration became a member of the European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan unification plan to end the decades-long dispute.

“Getting direct flights are pretty critical because it is about normalisation,” Straw added.

The veteran diplomat noted that the British government will not suddenly recognise the TRNC but it can bring other countries on board to solve this issue.

“But what the British government can and should do now is start to act as if TRNC is recognised. Picking up the Taiwanese example and introducing direct flight."

READ MORE: Turkey: UN mission in Cyprus failed to resolve dispute in 50 years

‘Hellenistic obsession’

Greeks have a “Hellenistic obsession” with Cyprus being formally part of the mainland, said Straw adding that therefore, feels that they will lose a region if they share power.

He stated that the Greek Cypriots have more opportunities to disseminate the information they want as a member of the EU and the world has no information about what Turkish Cypriots lived there.

“Members of parliament who are there now came in 2019, won't have a clue about what happened in 1960. Many of them a lot were born in 1974 when the Greek fascist colonels tried a coup d'etat on the island of Cyprus and the members opponent won't know at all about the fact that was the trigger for Turkish troops coming to rescue Turkish Cypriots who are going to be massacred,” Straw said.

READ MORE: Cypriot Turks open a ghost town to tourism to increase stake in Cyprus

Source: TRTWorld and agencies